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Legacy HomepageNewsSpecial ReportsNational Hispanic Heritage Month - 2015

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September 2015 is National Hispanic Heritage Month


By the Numbers

Hispanic Heritage Month Infographic


Screen grab of Major General Linda R. Urrutia-Varhall speaking during an interview.

Hispanic American Heritage Month 2015

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Photo Essay

Guardsmen, Civilians, Vets Celebrate Hispanic Heritage at Festival

More Photo Essays

Hispanic Medal of Honor Recipients

Hispanic Heritage Month - Medal of Honor Infographic

*Hispanics are the largest single ethnic group, in proportion to the number who served, to receive this prestigious award.

Source: Hispanic Medal of Honor Society

Presidential Proclamation

Hispanics contribute to our Nation's success in extraordinary ways -- they serve in the military and government, attend schools across America, and strengthen the economy."
- President Barack Obama, Sept. 15, 2015

Facts of the Day

September / October 2015

  • September 15, 2015

    Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every year from September 15 to October 15. For the 2015 observance, the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers has chosen the theme "Hispanic Americans: Energizing Our Nation’s Diversity."

  • September 16, 2015

    Each year, Americans observe Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The observance began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 31-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15.

  • September 17, 2015

    Joseph Marion Hernández was the first Hispanic to serve in Congress and the first delegate from the territory of Florida. He was born in St. Augustine, Florida, on August 4, 1793, when it was still a Spanish colony. When the territory of Florida was established in 1822, Hernández transferred his allegiance to the United States and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until March 3, 1823.

  • September 18, 2015

    The Hispanic population of the United States was 54 million as of July 1, 2013, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest minority. Hispanics constituted 17 percent of the nation’s total population. Only Mexico has a larger Hispanic population -- roughly 120 million.

  • September 19, 2015

    Hispanics are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Although Hispanics made up 16 percent of the U.S. population in 2010, only 8 percent of all certificates and degrees awarded in the STEM fields between 2009 and 2010 were earned by Hispanic students.

  • September 20, 2015

    Susana Martinez was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1959. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1986 then moved to New Mexico, where she became the district attorney in 1997. In 2010, she became the first female governor of New Mexico and the first Hispanic female governor in the United States.

  • September 21, 2015

    The term "Hispanic or Latino" refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin. Hispanic origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be any race.

  • September 22, 2015

    David G. Farragut is perhaps the best-known Hispanic Civil War hero. He served in the Union Navy and later became the first admiral in the U.S. Navy. Congress created the rank and awarded it to him after his August 5, 1864, victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay.

  • September 23, 2015

    The percentage of Hispanic students enrolled in STEM fields increased by 33 percent from 1996 to 2004. Although Hispanic students are equally as likely as non-Hispanic White students to major in STEM subjects, they are significantly less likely to earn a degree or certificate in a STEM field. Only 16 percent of Hispanic students who began college in 2004 as STEM majors completed a STEM degree by 2009.

  • September 24, 2015

    Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1952. At the age of seven, she moved to the United States. When she was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1982, she became the first Hispanic woman in Florida's State Legislature.

  • September 25, 2015

    There were 1.1 million Hispanics added to the United States’ population between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. This number is close to half of the 2.3 million people added to the nation’s population during this period. Between 2012 and 2013, there was a two-percent increase in the Hispanic population of the U.S.

  • September 26, 2015

    The Minorcans, a Hispanic group from the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, colonized parts of Florida in the mid-to-late 1760s. A century later, many of their descendants served in the Confederate Army and Navy. Others served for the Union. One of the most notable was Stephen Vincent Benét. Born in St. Augustine, he graduated from West Point in 1849, and later taught the science of gunnery during the war. In 1874, he was appointed Brigadier General, Chief of U.S. Army Ordnance.

  • September 27, 2015

    At the time of the 1860 U.S. Census, there were around 27,500 Mexican-Americans residing in the United States. When the Civil War started in 1861, Mexican-Americans were divided, as were other Americans. In the beginning of the war, about 2,550 Mexican-Americans joined Confederate forces, while around 1,000 joined the Union troops. Over the course of the war, approximately 9,900 Mexican-Americans fought for either the Confederate or Union military.

  • September 28, 2015

    In 1961, Rita Moreno became the first Hispanic actress to win an Academy Award, also known as an Oscar. She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in West Side Story. She is one of a small group of celebrities who have won all four of the most coveted awards in the entertainment business. Moreno won two Emmys, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Moreno was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1955.

  • September 29, 2015

    Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15 each year. September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day, or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 31-day period.

  • September 30, 2015

    In 2012, there were 38.3 million U.S. residents 5 and older who spoke Spanish at home. This is a 121 percent increase since 1990, when it was 17.3 million. Those who spoke Spanish at home constituted 13.0 percent of U.S. residents 5 and older. More than half (58 percent) of these Spanish speakers spoke English "very well." Of all Hispanics 5 and older, 73.9 percent spoke Spanish at home.

  • October 01, 2015

    Luis Alvarez was born in San Francisco, California, in 1911. In 1968, he became the first Hispanic American to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. He won the prize "for his decisive contributions to elementary particle physics, in particular the discovery of a large number of resonance states, made possible through his technique of using hydrogen bubble chamber and data analysis."

  • October 02, 2015

    The United States Air Force was officially founded on September 18, 1947, when President Truman signed the National Security Act. The Department of the Air Force was derived from a division of the Army, which purchased its first aircraft in 1909. World War II demonstrated the importance of airpower, and the National Security Act made the Air Force an independent service, equal to the Army and Navy.

  • October 03, 2015

    In 2013, there were 22 states in which Hispanics were the largest minority group. These states were Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

  • October 04, 2015

    As early as 1526, Spanish settlers attempted to colonize the coastal areas of what is now South Carolina. Although this effort failed, Spain established St. Augustine, Florida, the first permanent European settlement in the present-day United States, in 1565. By the mid-1800s, most of the Spanish lands in North America were occupied as states and territories of the United States. However, a Hispanic population remained, most notably in the Southeast and the Southwest.

  • October 05, 2015

    "In 2014, President Barack Obama corrects a historical act of discrimination when he awards the Medal of Honor to 24 Hispanic, Jewish, and African-American veterans who were passed over because of their racial or ethnic backgrounds. It is one of the largest Medal of Honor ceremonies in history.

  • October 06, 2015

    The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics was first established by President George H.W. Bush on September 24, 1990. During the 1990s, the Hispanic high school dropout rate was 32 percent, compared to the national rate of 12 percent. Since the Initiative has been in effect, there have been significant improvements in dropout rates of Hispanic students. This dropout rate was cut in half from 28 percent in 2000 to 14 percent in 2011.

  • October 07, 2015

    In 1979, Edward Hidalgo became the first Hispanic Secretary of the Navy after being nominated by President Jimmy Carter and confirmed by the Senate. Hidalgo was born in Mexico City, Mexico, in 1912 and moved to the United States as a child. He started his military career as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1942. Hidalgo was also a lawyer who graduated from Columbia Law School in 1936.

  • October 08, 2015

    The Hispanic population of the United States is projected to grow to 128.8 million in 2060. According to this projection, the Hispanic population will constitute 31 percent of the nation’s population by that date. In 2013, there were 54 million U.S. Hispanics, accounting for 17 percent of the population.

  • October 09, 2015

    Severo Ochoa was born in Luarca, Spain, in 1905. He went to medical school at the University of Madrid and graduated in 1929. He moved to the United States in 1941 and became an American citizen in 1956. Ochoa became the first Hispanic American to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1959 for discovering "the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid."

  • October 10, 2015

    In 2013, the Hispanic population of California was 14.7 million, the largest of any state in the U.S. At 4.8 million, Los Angeles County had the largest Hispanic population of any county. This was substantial, considering there were only eight states with Hispanic populations over one million at the time: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.

  • October 11, 2015

    In 2011, Sylvia Mendez was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a ceremony at the White House. As a child, Mendez and other Hispanic children were barred from attending all-White public schools in California's segregated public school system.

  • October 12, 2015

    Franklin Chang-Diaz was born in Costa Rica in 1950. In 1967, he moved to the United States where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1973 and a doctorate in applied plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. He was selected for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s astronaut program in 1980, and he became the first Hispanic in space when he flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1986.

  • October 13, 2015

    In 2012, the percentage of the United States Hispanic population who were of Mexican background was 64 percent. Another 9.4 percent were of Puerto Rican background, 3.8 percent were Salvadoran, 3.7 percent were Cuban, 3.1 percent were Dominican, and 2.3 percent were Guatemalan. The remainder was of some other Central American, South American, or other Hispanic/Latino origin.

  • October 14, 2015

    The 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics is in September 2015. To celebrate this, the U.S. secretary of education and the Initiative launched the "25th Anniversary Year of Action: Fulfilling America’s Future" from October 2014 through September 2015. This is a time to highlight Hispanics’ educational progress and achievements, increase their educational outcomes and opportunities, identify challenges, and address current educational needs.




Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Powerpoint Presentation

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